Successfully Curing Aplastic Anemia Patients
The Bone Marrow Transplant Unit at Hospital Angeles Lomas has successfully cured people with Aplastic Anemia, using state of the art facilities and world class physicians. If you are considering whether or not a stem cell transplant could help you or a loved one with Aplastic Anemia then please feel free to get in touch with us. We know that this can be a difficult time and so offer a free, no-obligation consultation to help you to understand whether stem cell transplantation is the right thing for you.
Aplastic anemia is a rare disease, affecting one in every 3 million Americans. Unlike leukemia, people with aplastic anemia produce normal healthy blood cells. However the disease stops your bone marrow from producing enough red and white blood cells and platelets, sometimes with life-threatening results.
Our red and white bloods cells and platelets only live for a certain period of time, so our bone marrow needs to keep up a steady supply of new blood cells to replace the dying ones. In aplastic anemia, not enough cells are made to replace the old ones and in severe cases, the bone marrow fails to make any new cells at all.
Around 20% of cases of aplastic anemia develop as the result of an inherited disorder, such as Fanconi anemia. The remaining 80% of cases are acquired and may be caused by exposure to high levels of some chemicals, radiation or viruses; although in many cases the cause remains unknown. Aplastic anemia in some could be an autoimmune disease, meaning that the bone marrow is attacked by the body’s own immune system, preventing the production of enough blood cells.
The symptoms of this disease are caused by the lower number of blood cells, and vary according to the severity of the disease and how many blood cells the bone marrow is actually able to produce. Low white cell count can lead to frequent infections and fever, due to the lack of immunity, whilst too few platelets can cause easy bruising, bleeding (such as nose bleeds), blood blisters or red spots under the skin (petechiae).
Diagnosing Aplastic Anemia
The blood of someone with aplastic anemia will show lower than normal levels of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. A bone marrow biopsy or aspiration will enable doctors to examine the cells present in the bone marrow further; examination should show that the cells present are normal (not cancerous) and the number of cells present will allow the doctors to diagnose moderate, severe or very severe aplastic anemia.
Treating Aplastic Anemia
The anemia can be controlled by administering frequent blood transfusions to raise blood counts. However, because all blood cells die naturally, this is not a long term solution and is usually used to make a patient healthy enough to undergo more permanent treatment.
Depending on the severity of the disease, doctors may choose to monitor blood counts for signs that the condition is worsening, or they may decide immediate treatment is required. This can take the form of immune-suppressive drugs that can stop the body’s own immune system from fighting and killing healthy blood cells, or bone marrow or cord cell transplant, which places new stem cells in the bone marrow, allowing new healthy marrow to generate and produce normal levels of blood cells.
Because the world of medicine is moving so quickly, the approaches to treating severe diseases may change in the future. However, at this point the only really effective treatments for aplastic anemia are immunosuppressive treatment to manage the disease and bone marrow or cord transplant to cure it. Even if your hospital is unable to offer the procedure locally, bone marrow transplant is likely to be the best option for many aplastic anemia sufferers.
Aplastic Anemia and BMT
Depending on your age and general health, if you have severe or very severe aplastic anemia it is likely that a bone marrow or cord blood transplant will be the best option for you as it will replace the malfunctioning cells with healthy, blood-producing stem cells from a matching family member, donor or unit of cord blood.
Because receiving lots of blood transfusions can make your body more likely to reject transplanted cells, you will receive as few blood transfusions as possible prior to the transplant and any blood you do receive will be irradiated; treated with radiation to remove white cells that may fight with your body, causing it to develop antibodies that could fight the transplanted cells.
Making a Decision
The time that lapses between diagnosis and transplant will have an effect on the success of a transplant. We appreciate that the time of diagnosis can be very distressing and confusing but it is important that you know about and understand the treatment options available to you in your hospital and further afield so that you can make the best choice, for you.
Whether it is you, your child or a loved one who has aplastic anemia, it is essential that you speak to an expert about the treatment options and outcomes. If you are not entirely sure about the treatment proposed, ask questions, seek another opinion or call us.
When you contact us about the possibility of undergoing bone marrow or blood cord transplants, our doctors will talk you through the potential risks as well as the benefits, enabling you to make an informed, active decision about your treatment.
For your free consultation please contact us.